Light and Shade – Part 4: Explosions, Neon and Day-Into-Night

In this, the last of the posts on Chapter 7 of Steve Caplin’s fantastic book How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed., I’m going to cover 3 “special effects” tutorials.

Explosive Effects
In this tutorial Caplin shows how to make a fireball by starting with a white shape.

176 - Fire without SmokeBothFirst, the rays are pulled out of the shape using the Smudge tool. The he blotchy colored effect is created using the clouds filter and setting the layer mode to Linear Light.  When the resulting shape is placed on an appropriate background, it really comes to life.

Neon Lights
In this tutorial Caplin shows how ordinary block text can be turned into a stunning neon sign.  It’s the technique I used to create the flashing neon banner for this blog.

178 - Lighting up neonBothFirst the text’s corners are rounded using the Refine Edge Dialog box. Then the neon tubes are created by selecting the text, making a new layer and creating a stroke by using Edit/Stroke (NOT Layer Effects). Once the Stroke is created, the original text layer is hidden and all the rest of the work happens on the Stroke layer.  Small portions are erased, to mimic the look of the tubes on a real neon sign. Then the inner glow is created by using Select/Modify/Contract and adding a white fill. The outer glow is produced by making a new layer behind the Stroke layer. The Stroke’s pixels are loaded by control-clicking on the layer’s thumbnail.  The new layer is used to feather the selection and then filled with the same color as the Stroke. Finally, a background is added and the effect is complete.

Day Into Night
In the final Chapter 7 tutorial Caplin shows how a daylight scene can be turned into a nighttime one, as seen in the following image pair.  This is the same  technique I used to create my submission for the Friday Challenge: The Rear Window.

180 - Day for NightBothl

First, the original sky was removed.  As you can probably guess, Curves Adjustment Layer Masks feature prominently in this exercise – not only to darken the whole scene, but also to create the lit windows and the street glow.  Learning how to use Curves Adjustment Layer Masks is one of the most useful tools I picked up from Caplin’s book.  (See Throwing Some Curves with Image Adjustments – Part 1)

Next: Friday Challenge 4 – A Procession, A Woodworking Shop and A Beach Hut

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